The Ultimate ROTC Guidebook is the only guide that will tell you how to complete a mission above the standard, explain how to reach your peak fitness level, and how to improve your battalion as a whole. David Atkinson recently discussed his upcoming book with publisher Savas Beatie LLC.

: Why would someone want to join ROTC?

DAA: There are about as many reasons as there are people. For some it will be the money from the monthly stipend, the scholarship, and the lump sum given each semester for books and other incidentals. For others there is the patriotic factor, which was likely sparked from 9/11. Some need a job and few jobs can guarantee the job security of the military, which will always be around. Others want the challenge of pushing themselves to take up a profession that is fulfilling to them. For me, I planned on joining the military as early as my junior year of high school, but ultimately decided not to. My freshman year of college I took the military science class and by the end of the school year knew that ROTC would be something I would enjoy.

: Where did you get the idea for The Ultimate ROTC Guidebook?

DAA: At Truman State University, an attempt was made to create a continuity document where seniors could pass along lessons learned to the rest of the battalion each year. The project quickly died out, but I thought it had a great deal of potential. One night I sat down and began writing this book as a way to preserve everything I had learned, mix in the lessons learned from my peers and others who had already graduated, and hopefully find a more efficient way for future cadets to quickly learn how to do well as a cadet so they could spend less time on the little things and focus on honing the skills necessary to be excellent at all ROTC tasks.

: How did you prepare for ROTC before you joined?

DAA: I had almost no knowledge whatsoever; not only about ROTC, but about the Army in general when I joined. Basically I spent the summer before contracting doing a lot of push-ups and sit-ups and reading military non-fiction after searching for anything written on ROTC only to find out there was almost nothing. I learned everything else as it came up, which struck me as an inefficient way to go about it. I hope this book will shorten that learning curve for future and to speed up their general knowledge, or at least let them know what it is they are supposed to do and how to do it well when, say, they're told they will be doing FLRC (Field Leadership Reaction Course, which is a series of obstacles one must pass using what appear to be odd pieces of equipment such as some rope, or a couple boards that are a few feet shorter than you'd like) next week.

: What are some examples of what makes a cadet above average, and how did you incorporate that into the book?

DAA: I made many mistakes during my time as a cadet and I used my personal experiences and lessons to create the most straightforward, un-intimidating, and easily applicable book possible so others wouldn't have to learn the hard way. To do well in ROTC you have to do three main things:

  1. Do well at school -- I include tips and techniques on how to stay on top of academics.
  2. Perform well on the physical fitness tests -- I draw upon my knowledge as a certified Health Fitness Specialist by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) to guide readers through exercise and nutrition
  3. Be a good leader -- I use my personal experience and smart sheets to show readers what makes a good leader.

: What should a new cadet expect when they first join?

DAA: The experience will vary based on the different universities or program entered. They can expect to adjust to waking up early at least three times a week to do physical training with the rest of the battalion, learning the Army lingo that is made up of a sea of acronyms, and being a part of an organization that is quick to support their own and offer a support network unrivaled by other organizations, fraternities, and sororities. There are other differences between military and civilian life (such as saying "one-zero" rather than "ten") but half the fun of ROTC is learning those details and being immersed in what is essentially a new culture.

: What is a key take-away you want your readers to get from The Ultimate ROTC Guidebook?

DAA: I think it'd be that being successful in ROTC is not just a matter of luck based on a few evaluations by cadre members. There is a certain science to it that can be mastered by following the tips and guidelines I offer. Too many people want to make excuses for why they aren't ranked high on the merit list. However, if you read this material and apply the simple lessons offered, anyone can do very well as a cadet. One big aspect I took into consideration when writing the book was to make it a format that others could easily understand and implement, and I think the book will be a tremendous instrument for anyone to use.

: Will the material in The Ultimate ROTC Guidebook apply to other ROTC programs?

DAA: Absolutely. Obviously there will be differences in the instructor quality and classmates, but ROTC is designed so that what you learn is more or less the same in every university. The books and PowerPoint presentations are all supplied by the Army, so the only differences in experiences will be the variations between cadre members. The principles provided in my book work regardless of which school you attend, and most principles still apply even in the active duty Army.

: Thank you for your time, we appreciate it.

DAA: You're welcome.


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